Wednesday, February 15, 2017

WW2 Fallen - Fred Gutknecht, 87th Infantry Division

87th Division moves through St. Hubert, taken a few days before Pvt. Gutknecht was killed.

Fred E. Gutknecht could have been 100 years old today. 

He was born on February 16, 1917 in Argentina.  We don't know the circumstance of how he came to America. 

When he enlisted in the army in Michigan on February 25, 1941 he was single with a grammar school level of education and past work experience in the foundry industry.

Fred was a private in Company C, 346th Infantry Regiment, 87th Infantry Division. The 87th Division was one of the later units that participated in the European theater. It arrived in France in November 1944 and was assigned to Patton's 3rd Army. Its first taste of combat was in the Saar Basin in early December, but soon it was put to work pushing back the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge.

Pvt. Gutknecht died on January 10, 1945, one of 26 men from his regiment who died that day. The 346th Infantry Regiment had been given the assignment of dislodging the Germans from Tillet, Belgium. It had been unsuccessful for days. The ground was too frozen to dig foxholes so it was hard to find protection from enemy fire. Pvt. Gutknecht's company was able to gain a foothold in the town on January 9, but German tanks counterattacked. The Americans were lacking anti-tank weapons at the moment so the infantry suffered casualties that likely included Pvt. Gutknecht.

German map of area where Pvt. Gutknecht was killed. Tillet is at far right.

Pvt. Gutknecht was one of 46 G.I.s from Company C that died during the war. His remains were returned to be buried at Barrancus National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.

Thank you Fred for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for Fred.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

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